This week we spoke to former ISA Academy Laser sailor Chris Penney who's coaching for the RYA Northern Ireland while studying Sport & Exercise Science.
Name: Chris Penney
Height: 6ft 4“ 192cm
Sailing Club: East Antrim Boat Club & Carrickfergus Sailing Club
Education: Currently studying a Degree in Sport & Exercise Science
Occupation: RYANI Pathway Coach
Sports as a Junior: Sailing & Badminton.
How did you start sailing? Started out at Carrickfergus Sailing Club sailing Toppers.
What boats did you sail as a junior? Toppers.
What did you learn from these boats? Racing Toppers brought out the competitive streak in me. It was a steep learning curve! I had a lot of fun racing my arch nemesis Barry Mc 'Milk' Cartin in 2005!
What boats did you sail in the ISA Academy? Laser Radial & Laser Standard.
What did it involve being in the Academy? It involved lots of winter training camps in the south of France and a good structured event plan. The hardest part was learning how to cook. The second hardest thing was learning how to clean! I came through with a great group of guys (and girls) on the Academy that were both great training partners on the water and good friends off the water.
The Academy involves a lot of commitment in terms of time and preparation in sailing. Did this help you improve as an athlete / sailor and what do you think you learnt from it? Yes. The Academy set-up is world class and ultimately helped me achieve my goals for many years. It definitely helped me improve as an athlete and a sailor. Both the sessions in the boat and the hard sessions in the gym became my life for a number of years during my late teens. Being in that sort of environment showed me the hard work needed to reach the top.
What is your current occupation? I am currently a student studying Sport & Exercise Science. I am also coaching for the RYA Northern Ireland heading up their junior squad programmes and working with sailors at various stages on the pathway.
Most importantly, did it help to prepare you for life down the road in any way outside of sailing? That old phrase, “if you want it, go and get it“. If only it was that easy! The Academy taught me the hard work and determination needed to achieve your goals. I think this has helped me going back into education and in pursuing my career in Strength & Conditioning.
Are you involved in the sport of sailing in any other way such as coaching or a class association member? I am currently coaching for the RYA Northern Ireland. I work with sailors at all levels from when they enter our Junior Squad programme right up to when they progress onto National squads or the Academy.
Do you still sail and if so what class and why do you enjoy it? I continued to race Lasers for a few years after leaving the Academy. I have recently sold my Laser and bought an RS400. It’s what I do and will continue to do for years to come.